At the Nonprofit Leadership Center, we believe the best lessons in nonprofit leadership come from nonprofit leaders themselves. Our 10 Questions With Series celebrates and elevates nonprofit and business leaders across the Tampa Bay region each month who are making an enduring impact on our communities. Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to Veatrice Farrell, executive director of the Deuces Live.
Veatrice has been the executive director of the Deuces Live since October 2012. Prior to leading this important community organization, she spent more than two decades in the financial and banking industries where she was instrumental in facilitating loans and new financial services to underserved communities. In addition to running the Deuces Live, she currently serves as the secretary for the Sunshine State Economic Development Corporation and is a board member of MyCroSchool Pinellas and the Warehouse Arts District Association. She is also vice president of the Pinellas Job Corp’s community relations committee.
If you love St. Petersburg and supporting the local Tampa Bay community, you need to know Veatrice Farrell and the Deuces Live. Here’s what Veatrice had to share about board governance, community partnership and her favorite local hot spots.
Q1. As the executive director of the Deuces Live, tell us about your organization and what drew you to serve this mission.
Veatrice: The Deuces Live, Inc., is a certified Florida Main Street located on the Historic 22nd Street South corridor in St. Petersburg. Main Streets TM is a nationwide program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Its goal is to redevelop historic commercial corridors with a focus on preserving existing assets — both physical (buildings) and intangible (the culture and heritage). The 22nd Street South corridor was once one of the most vibrant communities of St. Petersburg, separated from the city at large due to segregation.
Q2. St. Petersburg author and historian Jon Wilson said, “To know this city, first know this street.” For readers who may not be familiar with 22nd Street South or the Deuces, tell us about its history and why its vibrancy is so important.
Veatrice: It was once said that one could live their whole life on the Deuces — born at Mercy Hospital (13th Avenue South) and celebrating your homecoming at Sanchez Funeral Home (9th Avenue South). There were once more than 100 businesses on the Deuces, so engagement outside of its boundaries was not really necessary. Although one of the most iconic segregated corridors, it wasn’t the only neighborhood that housed the African American community.
Q3. One of your gifts as a leader is bringing diverse community groups and leaders together to try to strengthen our entire community and take more collaborative approaches to problem-solving. How can our nonprofit sector and business community work together better to advance important conversations and community impact?
Veatrice: For the longest time, the term “working together” has meant engaging in transactional interactions instead of transformative interchanges. Nonprofits ask for and receive funding from businesses instead of building partnerships that actually change the community. This is a topic that’s ripe for meaningful conversation. I hope NLC builds a workshop/seminar around this issue to really start a dialogue that will lead to true change.
Q4. We often hear from nonprofit leaders that better engaging their boards is one of their greatest challenges. Your organization has participated in NLC’s board training. What strategies have been most helpful to deepen engagement and effectiveness with your board? Any board governance advice you would share with other nonprofit leaders?
Veatrice: Engaging board members continues to be one of the greatest challenges and opportunities for nonprofits, even more so for those with a small staff. How does a board draw the line between oversight and micromanaging? In my opinion, board training provided by experienced professionals has been the most helpful in deepening engagement and effectiveness of our board.
The process of providing education focused strictly on board development can almost feel counter-productive. “What do you mean we have to attend training to become a better board member? What about the mission?” The best way for me to illustrate how important trained board members are to strengthening the overall mission is to use the fable about the thin, lightly muscled man that was in a contest with a John Henry type to cut down a tree. The contest was scheduled to last eight hours. Every two hours or so, the thin, lightly muscled man would leave for a 15-minute break. At the end of the eight hours, the thin, lightly muscled man had chopped down his tree. The John Henry type lost! How, asked the judges did this happen? The thin, lighted muscled man replied, every time I took a break, I sharpened my ax.
Q5. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to new professionals or emerging leaders today?
Veatrice: Make sure that you have balance between your work and home life.
Q6. As someone who loves St. Pete and is committed to strengthening local businesses in the community, what are some of your favorite restaurants, shops or local businesses we can’t miss while in the neighborhood?
- Ameenah’s Soul Food Sundays
- Esquire Barber Shop to listen to wisdom from the barbers
- Chief’s Creole Cafe for gumbo
- Night Flow for specials
- Lorene’s Fish House for chicken wings
- The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum and the ArtsXchange every second Saturday during ArtWalk for the new exhibits
- Matinees at the Royal Theater every second and fourth Saturday at 2 p.m.
Q7. When you’re not working to revitalize the 22nd Street South District, what are you most passionate about in your everyday life?
Veatrice: Reading and writing.
Q8. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Veatrice: “The Clarity Cleanse” by Habib Sadeghi.
Q9. Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t the executive director of the Deuces Live, I would be ______________.
Veatrice: The owner of a movie theater!
Q10. What’s something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
Veatrice: I’m an introvert.
Would you or someone you know be a great leader to profile for an upcoming 10 Questions With Series article? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your recommendations.
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